Sports predictions for 2016: The silly, serious and sublime – USA TODAY
What will 2016 bring to the sports world? USA TODAY Sports has an idea and shares its silly, serious and sublime predictions for the coming year. Here are 52 of them, one for each week of 2016:
1. Stephen Curry becomes the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 70 points in a game, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, David Thompson, Elgin Baylor and David Robinson.
2. Nick Saban does the Dabo when Alabama beats Clemson in the College Football Playoff championship game.
3. Cam Newton does the DabÂ because he just can, dammit.
4. The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders become the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Raiders. London and Toronto then become the new cities to be used as leverage by NFL teams wanting new stadiums. The London Rams, anyone?
5. The New Orleans Saints are in need of a new coach as Sean Payton bolts after a decade there.
6. Stephen Curry misses a three-pointer.
7. Kobe Bryant makes a three-pointer.
8. The Carolina Panthers complete the first undefeated season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins when they beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl 50.
9. After a Sprint Cup season with no first-time winners, two drivers pick up their first career victories in 2016. Kyle Larson finally scores a win in his third season, and rookie Ryan Blaney gets Wood Brothers Racing back to victory lane as the team returns to a full-time schedule.
10. Peyton Manning doesnât retire. Although he will turn 40, Manning gets medical clearance in the spring and returns to the Denver Broncos for one more season.
11. All non-judgment calls in the NFL become reviewable, but stuff like pass interference calls wonât.
12. The North Carolina men and Connecticut women each win NCAA basketball titles.
13. Andrew Luck becomes the highest-paid player in NFL history. Despite his injuries and struggles this season, this is a fait accompli.
14. Rory McIlroy overpowers Augusta National to take his first Masters and complete the career Grand Slam.
15. On the other hand, Tiger Woods does not play a round of competitive golf. He wonât ride his golf cart into the sunset, however, so expect to see him inside the ropes in 2017.
16. With the first overall pick in the NFL draft, the Tennessee Titans select Mississippi tackle Laremy Tunsil. Hey, somebody has to protect Marcus Mariota.
17. Novak Djokovic wins the French Open on his way to the Grand Slam. At 28, he proves to be too much for his fading rivals Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.
18. Not to be outdone, Serena Williams surpasses Steffi Graf for career Grand Slam titles (currently 21 to 22) and wins the Golden Slam â the four Grand Slam events and Olympic gold.
19. Kobe Bryant takes 40 shots in the last game of his career, hitting 13 and finishing with 31 points.
20. No need to wait 37 years between Triple Crown winners after American Pharoahâs feat. Four years after trainer Doug OâNeill, jockey Mario Gutierrez and owner J. Paul Reddam lost a chance to end the Triple Crown drought when Iâll Have Another had to be scratched the day before the Belmont Stakes because of tendinitis, the same connections finish what they started when Nyquist (named after Swedish hockey player Gustav Nyquist, who plays for the Detroit Red Wings, and unbeaten as a 2-year-old) captures the Triple Crown.
21. Conor McGregor keeps talking, keeps winning and keeps being the UFCâs shining light. The Irishman is in his prime and has unshakable confidence, and his impending move to the 155-pound division should be fascinating viewing.
22. After growing sentiment that the MVP should be based on more than just sheer numbers, Kawhi Leonard wins the award in the closest vote ever, beating Stephen Curry and LeBron James.
23. Luke Walton, with an official record of 0-0, wins Coach of the Year.
24. Someone on the PGA Tour shoots 58. With todayâs equipment leading to a power game, the magic number drops from 59 to 58.
25. The Washington Capitals win their first Stanley Cup, but Alex Ovechkin misses out on the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP as critics cite a substandard plus-minus rating.
26. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers resume on-field hostilities, sparked by a candid and true assertion from Zack Greinke.
27. The Warriors win their second consecutive title in a seven-game series against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
28. American fans get to see the magic of Lionel Messi firsthand, with the Copa America Centenario tournament playing out in the USA. Messiâs Argentina goes in as the favorite, and the little maestro finally gets his hands on a trophy that has evaded him.
29. With the first pick in the NBA draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select Ben Simmons from LSU.
30. Ronda Rousey gets her shot at redemption by facing Holly Holm at UFC 200 in the new Las Vegas Arena built just off The Strip. And the result is the same as their meeting in Melbourne.
31. Organizers in Rio fail to adequately address water-quality concerns ahead of the Olympics. (Yeah, thatâs a given, but we have to get at least one prediction right.)
32. Speaking of the Olympics, swimmer Katie Ledecky wins more gold medals than any other American. …
33 Simone Biles becomes a household name in the USA when she wins all-around gold in gymnastics. …
34. Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce are the first man and woman to win the 100 meters in three consecutive Olympics. …
35. And the U.S. womenâs soccer team wins gold. Itâs the first time the U.S. women take the World Cup and Olympic gold in back-to-back years.
36. Michigan beats Ohio State! In field hockey.
37. As much as it would be nice to see Tony Stewart go out in Jeff Gordon style â being competitive, winning a race and making it to the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway â it doesnât happen for âSmoke.â
38. Alex Rodriguez hits his 28th home run of the season and 715th of his career to pass Babe Ruth for No. 3 all time.
39. Just to make sure Rodriguez doesnât get any ideas about overtaking No. 1, Barry Bonds comes out of retirement with the Miami Marlins to become a player-coach and hits three pinch-hit home runs in September to increase his career mark to 765.
40. Scott Dixon wins his fifth IndyCar Series title. The Ganassi Racing driver stalked Team Penskeâs Juan Pablo Montoya, who led in points after the first 15 of 16 races, throughout 2015 before seizing upon a mistake to win the season finale at Sonoma and the championship.
41. The USA wins the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2008. All it took was a task force and Woods as an assistant captain.
42. The Chicago Cubs have their fans in a World Series frenzy with a 5-4 lead in the top of the ninth inning of Game 7. But former Cub Luis Valbuenaâs two-run pinch-hit home run also brings home 2016 American League MVP Carlos Correa as the Houston Astros deliver the cruelest defeat ever to a fan base that still hasnât won a championship since 1908.
43. Lydia Ko, who turns 19 in April, wins six times, a natural progression for her five victories in 2015.
44. Roger Goodell will finally attend a Patriots game. A Patriots road game.
45. Mike Krzyzewski, who will be 69 in February, retires after the season. But he first coaches the U.S. to Olympic gold, his third such victory.
46. A new movie about Lance Armstrong is released in the USA entitled The Program. To better reflect the state of Armstrongâs current legal situation, screenwriters propose a sequel: Pre-trial Discovery Wars: The Lawyers Awaken.
47. James Harden shaves.
48. The fight game will experience a golden year, but not because of the emergence of a new star to fill Floyd Mayweather Jr.âs departing boots. A collection of hungry and entertaining fighters such as Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin and Roman Gonzalez get boxing heading in the right direction.
49. Kevin Harvick could easily be the two-time defending NASCAR champion heading into 2016, but he has to settle for this yearâs title.
50. LSUâs Leonard Fournette, playing in a new offense, wins the Heisman Trophy.
51. Luke Rockhold marches up the UFC pound-for-pound rankings and establishes himself as one of the premier stars of the organization. Rockhold is already one of the best pure athletes in MMA and has the tools to dominate the middleweight division after taking the belt from Chris Weidman at UFC 194.
52. The Southeastern Conference does not place a team in next seasonâs College Football Playoff.